If we had a guide to NYC's Grain Bowl Restaurants That Won't Suck Out Part Of Your Soul, Teranga would top the list. No such guide exists, unfortunately. But take our statement as a sign to ignore most other fast-casual places in favor of this cafe in The Africa Center near the East 110th Street entrance to Central Park.
Teranga’s bowl components range from Nigerian beef suya to Moroccan chermoula and ancient grains eaten all over West Africa. Nothing on the menu costs more than $18, and there are plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. Choose from a curated list of specialty combinations (we put our favorites below), or take the mix-and-match approach and combine protein bases with hearty stewed black eyed peas and okra or spicy-sweet fried kelewele. Whichever path you choose, make sure it includes a heap of Teranga’s jollof rice. It's fiery and herbaceous, and it'll be the true star of your meal. If we used even a quarter of the time we dedicate to thinking about Teranga's jollof, we'd be able to write a children's book or maybe even develop a better personality.
As incredible as the food is, Teranga's communal tables, counter-setup, and cafeteria-looking space make the restaurant a bit too casual for an important dinner or lunch. We love this restaurant for a quick solo meal or a relaxed business meeting uptown. Teranga is also a great place for takeout the next time you’re planning a picnic in Central Park (which happens to be located across the street).
Suya Super Bowl
This special combines a few different West African street foods into one incredible meal. Each bowl comes with a hefty base layer of joloff beneath your choice of suya skewer (either grilled hanger steak or chicken coated with a dry rub of nutty-fiery pepper), plus sweet ndambe stew and mafe sauce. We prefer the steak to the chicken, and we like to add a ton of scotch bonnet-based moyo hot sauce for good measure.
Roast Salmon Bowl
Teranga’s salmon bowl is a little lighter than the other options. Mostly because it has a generous portion of casamance salad in a ginger dressing.
Yassa Yassa Grilled Chicken Bowl
This bowl makes us want to eat at Teranga every week. The combination of acidic and garlicky yassa chicken, spicy jollof, and vegetal okra stew provides levels of texture and flavor that many formal, sit-down restaurants would kill to accomplish.
Want a pick-me-up? Or maybe a refreshing slap in the face? Teranga’s homemade ginger juice will make you feel like all of your pores are experiencing cold air for the first time.